An Oakland teenager builds some self-respect by joining her housing project's new track team in this earnest, if lurid and unpolished, novel. Kisha, 13, is a skeptical participant at first; Darren, the new head of the community center, insists that team members stay away from drugs and sex, keep their grades up, and commit to six clays of practice a week. She finds in this discipline an anchor that she needs, living among crackheads and teen mothers, with a best friend who is being sexually abused, and domestic violence in her own home (her unemployed, alcoholic father beats and then shoots Kisha's mother for getting a job). Levy (Fitting In, 1991, not reviewed, etc.) parades a succession of cautionary encounters, uplifting slogans, and sobering comparisons past readers, but sacrifices credulity with an unlikely plot; having done most of its training offstage and after only one other tournament, the team flies to Pennsylvania (paid for by Kisha's mother, who signs over a paycheck) where the girls ace a national meet, Kisha sets a new US record, and a passing airport porter writes Darren a large check. Such a huge dose of fantasy--even though the story is based on true events--makes it all the harder to swallow the author's messages, however well-intentioned.